In the 1960’s, after a period of economic decline, the logging town of Leavenworth, Washington decided to alter its image in order to attract tourism. Among such themes as Italy, and The Wild West, Bavaria was chosen as the new look for the town, not because of any significant cultural connection, but mostly because the surrounding landscape resembles alpine Germany. Despite some local protests, the town council instituted “bavarianization” in order to create a cohesive experience for the visitor: a schedule of annual festivals and the imposition of new tax laws, zoning regulations, architectural elements, and even a limited set of Germanic typefaces, on all commercial enterprises.
Within a decade, tourists came in large numbers and the town’s economy turned around. Many businesses have moved in to participate, and some residents have voluntarily bavarianized their homes. Still, many residents are conflicted about the town’s transformation, because it contradicts their faith in unrestricted resource development and obscures the town’s actual history. On the other hand this “old world” economic and cultural conformity has proved very profitable and created the most recognizable place in the area.
Andrea Robbins and Max Becher 1995/96